Superman Silver for Hammond

by Steven Scott — 25th June 2024.

James on the EYOC rostrum James on the EYOC rostrum

James Hammond came of age on the internatiional stage as captured GB's first-ever forest medal at the European Youth Championships, with the silver medal in the Long distance race in Szczecin, Poland.

Although he's been the dominant junior domestically, with a string of national titles, his international form hasn't matched up for a variety of reasons. In his first year of eligibility, GB wasn't able to send a team due to COVID restrictions. The following year he contracted the virus while at the championship, and last year he struggled in 30 degree temperatures off an early start.

EYOC, which is de-facto the World Championship at under 18 level doesn't feature a seeded start list, bur James was favoured this time with a late start out of the random draw. Eschewing his normal steady start while he eases into the map, James hit the front on the first checkpoint, and was 3rd of the 112 starters at the first radio control (17.45).

As he returned to the arena at the end of his first loop, he had improved to hold a share of the course lead, but dropped 30 seconds early on his short loop to move back into 3rd again.; Redoubling his effort, he was able to regain the 30 seconds on the very next leg, but, despite a storming finish capped off by a full length dive for the line, he came up agonisingly short, six seconds off the win in 54.35.

Ironically, the next best run by a GB athlete is also by an FVO runner, as James displaces Jamie Stevenson's 8th place from 2009 as the best British performance.

Scarlett Kelly had a memorable GB debut, as she notched a top 20 place (56.37) in W16 as the best-placed Brit in the field. It emerged that this was the 7th best run ever by a British W16 at the event, and the best by an athlete on debut, which is remarkable in that Scarlett has only been racing for three years, compared to some of her contempraries, who have been in the sport since they were toddlers.

Both were handed closing leg duties in the relay, and raced strongly without making an impression on the leaderboard. James was sent out in 21st place for his lap, and managed to gain six places by the end (38.54 for the leg) for an eventual 15th place finish (134.38) . The race was well stretched out by the time Scarlett took over for her W16 closing leg, and she ran alone to maintain the 8th position (46.32) and hold off a challenge from a Latvia team that gained ten minutes on the leg.

They're back in action almost immediately, as Scarlett joins the Scotland junior tour to Sweden, while James barely has time to touch down and celebrate his 18th birthday before he's on the road again to Czechia and the Junior World Championships.


Scarlett posted the 7th best placing in history by a British W16

Scarlett posted the 7th best placing in history by a British W16


A full-length dive for the line wasn't quite enough for the win

A full-length dive for the line wasn't quite enough for the win

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